The workplace is a melting pot of people with different personalities, personal values, past experiences and levels of maturity in self awareness and emotional intelligence. This means that each colleague will react to situations in different ways according to their fears and subconscious protection mechanisms.
Unfortunately this means that some of your colleagues will react inappropriately and this will be demonstrated in various ways. Some reactionary behaviours can be very subtle (but none the less quite devastating) and some can be very evident. No matter how evidentiary this inappropriate behaviour is, if the culture of the workplace or your team is not to constructively address and resolve these situations, you and others will find methods of coping which in the long run will not be healthy for you and does nothing to change the situation you find yourself in.
Being treated inappropriately at work usually makes our blood boil. This may occur when a colleague or your manager takes credit for your work or your idea, when you are interrupted and talked over or ignored like you don’t exist. You may feel played off or set up by other staff or the scapegoat for everything that seems to go wrong. Being the topic of gossip is very hurtful and often we put up with being sworn at or continually spoken to in raised volumes or sarcastic tones.
You may be wired with a ‘rapid boil’ trip switch or a ‘slow boil’ one – but either way, you feel the hurt of another’s actions or comments and when you finally hit boiling point you are highly likely to react inappropriately yourself.
Whatever you do, don’t lower your standards in retaliation and behave inappropriately towards anyone at work (or at home either). Behaving in this manner means you are only betraying yourself by not staying true to your own values. Not only will you feel disappointed in yourself later on (even if you momentarily feel some relief) but you may in fact be the one who faces disciplinary action.
Reaching boiling point is not just about feeling hurt or wanting retaliation. It also has a lot to do with our internal angst at not being able to manage the situation in a mature manner – in the way we know we should step up and respond. Perhaps it’s because we don’t feel skilled or confident to address the person ‘in the moment’. Perhaps it is because we believe we will be victimised for speaking out. Maybe we have become a product of a culture that avoids difficult conversations or believes situations are resolved by yelling at the other person and then leaving it behind.
Here are four tips to help you at work if you have decided you don’t want to compromise your values:
You are welcome to contact Workplace Harmony Solutions for a copy of our ‘Effective Communications’ series or to provide support for external interventions that achieve successful resolution of complex situations and can repair damaged relationships. We are specialists in working with teams and organisations around cultural change.
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